In areas like Shildon, Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor, Liberal Democrat campaigners are leading the fight for fairer council tax. In many of these areas town councils provide the services provided in other parts of the County but residents are paying significantly more council tax for this.
Cllr Garry Huntington, who was elected on a massive swing from Labour in a by-election in Shildon comments, “It is completely unfair for Shildon residents to pay twice, once for services in Shildon and again for services elsewhere in the County. The playing field is not balanced.”
Cllr Michael Stead, who stood for election in Newton Aycliffe’s Woodham Ward last February on a campaign to secure changes comments, “Residents across Newton Aycliffe deserve better. Its simply not fair for Woodham residents to pay hundreds of pounds more than residents elsewhere in the County and still have to pay the same to the County Council.
Cllr Stead was elected with nearly 80% of the vote in the Woodham by-election in a Labour ward.
Durham Lib Dem’s stunning by-election victory a few months ago is still having repercussions. Lib Dem Garry Huntington campaigned on the state of Shildon and Dene Valley, the appalling condition of many areas and the huge number of empty homes.
The County Council has been forced to act and much more is now being done, in part thanks to a Lib Dem budget motion last year which secured unanimous support for a doubling of empty homes staff.
Labour-run Durham County Council presides over some of the highest number of empty properties in the whole country with over 6000 homes sat empty.
The Lib Dems are piling on the pressure to get action on this issue and Garry’s massive victory is helping make the Council stand up and take notice.
Garry beat Labour in their own backyard with 1257 votes to Labour’s 682, a massive swing, proving that we can win anywhere in County Durham.